Suffication: Exercising in Air Pollution


What a week guys, what a week. It has been about a week since my last post, but tons have happened over here in San Diego. Thousands of lives have been changed forever from the tragic fires all over the county, and Matt and I have been right in the middle. Luckily, both of our houses and communities were saved, but we were threatened throughout most of the week with evacuations as the fire was creeping in only miles away. Check out Matt’s post from the other day about it all. There’s also a ton of incredible pictures he took from some of our nearby communities. Since the fires began, along with the endless reports of people’s homes being destroyed, the local news has shown a great fear for breathing the air outside. Throughout most of last week the dense smoke somehow avoided my neighborhood, but later rolled in as the winds shifted. The reports have said that even though sometimes the smoke isn’t fully visible, the ash and soot is still flying around and being inhaled by us all. I guess whatever goes up must come down, right?

Lately, I have been feeling the urge to begin running and cycling on a better schedule. (This past month has been insane and my routines have been all thrown off.) I have been seeing quite a number of people walking and running outside, like normal in my neighborhood. After seeing this, and having not smell smoke for the past few days, I figured some exercise outdoors wouldn’t be such a bad idea. My buddy, Jason and I went on a 20 mile bike ride on Saturday and felt great throughout. Luckily, I have faired well after the fact, but Jason, my girlfriend, and a few other friends that have done the same, have not shaped up so well. They have all complained about sore throats and an overall gross feeling.

Some of us are more sensitive than others when it comes to air quality, I guess. I am not sure about my friends, but many times people with underlying respiratory diseases such as asthma, bronchitis, or emphysema can be easily affected. Sometimes we do not know of these diseases until we experience a problem from a situation such as this. There are some ways to more safely exercise in such conditions, if need be. This can also be used in cities with constant poor air quality. Here are a few tips:

  • If you have any indoor location to workout, try and complete it there.
  • Workout early in the morning or later on at night. This is typically when the wind will die down so not so much air pollution will be kicked around.
  • Try to avoid any heavily trafficked roads where car smog can affect you.
  • If you can exercise at a pace where you’ll only need to breathe through your nose, do it.
  • Avoid any kind of smoke you see: cigarette or wildfire!
  • Ask your doctor if your body is even capable of exerting itself in such a demanding exercise.
  • STOP working out if you begin to cough or have any struggle breathing.

The moral of the story: No one should really be out there exercising in conditions when they know there is a possibility of polluted air entering the lungs. Use common sense before you take that step out of the door to start your workout. Each person will be affected differently in such conditions, but even if it isn’t immediate, even the most healthy person will experience some long-term effect if done on a routine basis. Be smart out there!

P.S.: I really feel bad for the health-nuts that live in Los Angeles!

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